Duck Decoy Spread for Rivers

One exciting way to hunt for ducks is using duck decoy spreads for rivers.  This example duck decoy spread for rivers will show you in an easy way how to place your duck decoys so that you can funnel the ducks into close shooting distance as the ducks fly down the river.


Let’s take a look at an example duck decoy river spread to help you bag more ducks:

duck decoy spread for rivers


“River Slash” duck decoy river spread summary:

  • “U” pointing with the wind and helps funnel ducks for close shooting opportunities
  • Use on smaller rivers, streams and other waterways where you can access both sides of the shore
  • Incorporate full body duck decoys on the shores
  • Use natural vegetation on the shore to conceal the hunters


“U” pointing with the wind and helps funnel ducks for close shooting opportunities

With this duck decoy spread the primary consideration is to face the opening of the decoys creating a “U” with the wind.  In this example, the wind is blowing from left to right.  Since ducks want to land into the wind we have setup the duck decoy river spread so that the landing zone is to the right of the decoys.  This means that the ducks should approach the spread from right to left and head for the area labeled “Landing Zone”.


The great thing about this “U” is that it helps to create a funneling effect with the ducks.  What I mean is that as the ducks fly upriver they will see that there are ducks on both sides of the river and in front of them with a large open area for landing.  The hope with this spread is that the ducks see the open landing area and head in. Even if the ducks elect to not land into this river duck spread there is a good chance that you can still get pass shooting at the ducks as they fly up river.


In addition, by using this on smaller rivers and bodies of water you can ensure that ducks are within shotgun range.  For example, most shotguns have an effective killing range of about 40 yards or so for ducks.  This means that if the decoys on the other side of the river from the hunters are about 40 yards away any ducks that come within the spread should be in shotgun range.


Use on smaller rivers, streams and other waterways where you can access both sides of the shore

For best results on this duck decoy spread pattern you will want to use it with smaller rivers, streams and other waterways where you can easily access both sides of the shoreline.  This is because you will need to access both sides for placing your shoreline decoys and for setting up your hunting location.


However, you can still use this duck decoy spread even if the body of water is larger.  What you would do is simply eliminate the decoys that are on the shore across from the hunters and have an opening of the “U” be out into the water about 40 yards.  This way you still create a funneling effect but you will simply not be utilizing the entire width of the river.


Incorporate full body duck decoys on the shores

One element to this duck hunting spread that you can add to increase the level of realism is to add some full body duck decoys to the shoreline.  It is common for ducks to feed on the shorelines and even use the shorelines as a resting place.  When the approaching ducks see this it may help them feel more comfortable to come and join in the feast.


This river duck spread shows several feeding duck decoys along the shoreline and even some active duck decoys walking about.  If you have sleeping duck decoys you can also incorporate them onto the shoreline in groups of 2-5 to create the illusion that those ducks are so comfortable in this spot that they are resting.


Use natural vegetation on the shore to conceal the hunters

Another benefit of this river duck decoy spread is that the hunter will be able to use the natural vegetation of the shore to help keep concealed from the sight of approaching ducks.  In fact, one of the most critical components to successfully shooting ducks is ensuring that you are out of the sight of the ducks so that they do not get scared and flare away from your decoy spread and leave effective shotgun range.


Depending on how much vegetation there is on the shoreline you could place layout blinds on the shore and cover them up with tall grass.  You could also setup a permanent blind on the shore and have season long hunting opportunities as long as you have long term access to this land.  However, one of my most favorite ways for this style of hunting is to simply sit in the tall grass or under a tree to keep concealed.  This way I do not need to carry a layout blind or take the time and expense to build a permanent shore blind.


Final Thoughts

There are many different duck decoy spreads that you can use to successfully hunt ducks from rivers.  This is just one example of a duck decoy river spread that may help increase your duck hunting success.  Remember to always keep the direction of the wind in mind when you are placing your decoys so that you can use the ducks natural tendency to land into the wind in helping you make effective shots as the ducks approach.  Finally, do not forget about finding effective concealment from the ducks.  Regardless of how well you have your duck decoy spread setup you will not be very successful in shooting ducks if they can spot you before you have a chance to shoot them.


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Scott – Owner – DecoyPro